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Peoria Man Receives Two-Year Prison Term for Investment Fraud

(Phoenix, Ariz. – Oct. 2, 2007) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that Wayne McLaws, 60, of Peoria, was sentenced to two years in prison and seven years of probation for his role in two fraudulent investment programs, Dennel Finance, Ltd. and Resource Development International, Ltd. He was sentenced by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney.

In January 2007, McLaws pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges. According to court documents, between 1999 and 2000, McLaws, who was a regional manager of Dennel Finance and Resource Development International, fraudulently obtained about $150,000 from investors after the Securities and Exchange Commission started an investigation into the companies’ business practices.

Dennel and Research Development obtained money from investors by telling them the funds would be used to purchase and trade "prime bank" financial instruments on overseas markets. Investors were promised an interest rate of 24 percent per year. These programs were frauds; "prime bank" financial instruments do not exist, and the programs did not invest in them.

During its operation, Dennel obtained about $43 million from some 300 investors. As a result of the SEC investigation, Dennel was shut down and placed into receivership. Lawrence J. Warfield, CPA, the receiver appointed by the Federal Court, recovered and returned to investors $18 million.

Benjamin Cook, 59, the principal operator of Dennel, is currently serving a 17.5-year prison sentence. Robert Burr, 44, Dennel’s “investment manager,” is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.